Spending watchdog sets sights on asylum claims, call centres and RCMP weapons

Ottawa’s official spending watchdog is releasing a series of reports today on a wide range of topics — everything from how well the RCMP equips its officers to how efficiently the government processes asylum claims.

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada will table five reports at 10 a.m. ET today. Here’s what they’ll be looking at:

Call centres: This audit examined some of the government’s biggest client-heavy departments — Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Veterans Affairs — to see if they’re providing Canadians with accurate, timely and consistent information. At ESDC, auditors reviewed call centres for the Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security programs.

CBC News reported last month that federal call centres dropped more than three million calls last year.

Equipping the RCMP: This audit delved into how well Mounties are equipped with hard body armour and semi-automatic weapons. It also looked at training and maintenance for firearms.

The RCMP was found guilty of failing to provide adequate use-of-force equipment and related user training to the Moncton Mounties who were killed or wounded while trying to stop gunman Justin Bourque, who went on a shooting rampage in June 2014.

Government advertising: This audit looked at whether there is adequate oversight to determine if the government is using tax dollars only for non-partisan advertising.

Asylum claims: This review looked at the issue of processing asylum claims. The Conservative opposition accuses the government of maintaining lax border controls; more than 40,000 people have crossed from the U.S. into Canada outside official border points in the last two years. This audit examined whether the Canada Border Services Agency, IRCC and the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada consistently process such claims in a timely, efficient way.

Taxation of e-commerce: This report focuses on whether various government departments have ensured that the sales tax system for e-commerce is neutral and that the GST/HST tax base adequately protected.

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